A federal district court ruled Wednesday that the city of Atlanta violated a fire chief's first amendment rights by terminating him for expressing his biblical views on marriage.
Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran was fired in January 2015 after city leaders took issue with a men's Bible study he wrote, titled Who Told You That You Were Naked? In the study, Cochran argues that God created sex within the bounds of marriage for the purpose of procreation.
His book was given to a gay city council member who then complained to the mayor and city leaders. He was promptly terminated.
Cochran fought back, sued the city, and won.
"The government can't force its employees to get its permission before engaging in free speech," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, who argued before the court on behalf of Cochran last month.
"In addition, as the court found, the city can't leave such decisions to the whims of government officials. This ruling benefits not only Chief Cochran, but also other employees who want to write books or speak about matters unrelated to work. Atlanta can no longer force them to get permission or deny them permission just because certain officials disagree with the views expressed," he said.
While Cochran is grateful for the court's decision, he's shocked he got fired in the first place.
"Most Americans are astonished that in America you could be terminated from employment for expressing your thoughts and beliefs," he told CBN News.
His friend, Pastor Michael Youssef of Leading the Way ministry, added, "We need to take courage — especially as we see the day drawing near — to say, 'No! Our God will provide for us, and we will not be intimidated. We will not worship Caesar. We have only one Lord, and His name is Jesus, and we believe His word."